It’s no secret that New Orleans is a hotbed for Voodoo, but despite that many people still think Voodoo is what they see in shows like American Horror Story. Kalindah Laveaux is a well respected Voodoo Queen based in the New Orleans area. Recently, she talked to DIME about her practice to shed some light on the misconceptions of Voodoo, as well as tell us a little bit about herself.
LENORE SEAL: How did you become a Voodoo Queen?
KALINDAH LAVEAUX: I became a Voodoo Queen through a process of initiations, rituals and training by way of my family lineage. In the beginning, I didn’t know that I would be doing this work for other people, but gradually I ended up doing this full time.
LS: How long have you been practicing Voodoo?
KL: My entire life. Voodoo was passed on to me by the elders in my family. As far as helping people professionally, I have been doing that for about 15 years.
LS: What are some common misconceptions that people have about Voodoo when they come to you?
KL: Many people see Voodoo as magical remedy that will fix everything without them having to take personal responsibility. They come to me with whatever wish they can dream up, and expect their wish to come true effortlessly. Many people don’t know that it’s actually a tradition that helps to cultivate themselves in order to achieve change. You can’t just buy a charm to end all of your problems, but that is the way a lot of people see it.
LS: What are the most common rituals that you perform?
KL: Very often, I do cleansing rituals. Every ritual, for me, starts with some type of cleansing. People need to be cleansed energetically and spiritually, and that takes care of a lot of the issues that people go through when they have hardships. Before trying to correct anything or draw anything to you, if you cleanse away things that are blocking your success or opportunities, that takes care of much of the problem.
LS: On your social media, you have a lot of photos of yourself with snakes. Can you describe the significance of snakes in Voodoo?
KL: Voodoo Queens always dance with snakes. It is a sacred union between Divine Feminine (Voodoo Queen) and the phallic energy of the serpent. Also, in our tradition, snakes have a lot of significance because they are one of the most primal energies on the planet. Our DNA are [shaped like] serpents. The Mississippi River — that’s a serpent.
LS: I also see on your social media that you work with the Mardi Gras Indians. How are you involved with them?
KL: I’m actually a Mardi Gras Indian Queen. My title and position is Voodoo Queen. It’s a new position that I was allowed to bring into the tradition.
LS: What is something that you wish more people knew about Voodoo?
KL: I wish that the people who carry Voodoo in their bloodlines knew how vital it is to honor and participate in these ancestral rites. It’s not something to avoid because it’s a part of who you are.
LS: Why do you think that New Orleans is such a hotbed for Voodoo specifically, but also other lesser known/less publicized religions?
KL: There is a few reasons for that. First and foremost, I think spirit, culture and history here are all very strong. I also think there was a certain freedom of expression that was allowed here, just a little bit more than other places. Without that freedom of expression, I feel that these practices would have been shut down for too many years to be able to thrive. Although tourism promotes a lot of the misconceptions about Voodoo, it also perpetuates interest and curiosity. Voodoo can be found in other places besides New Orleans, but the rich African heritage and freedom of expression here keeps it thriving.
For more information or to make an appointment, contact Voodoo Queen Kalindah Laveaux at ladylaveaux.com or on Instagram @kalindahlaveaux.